Mainly covers the period June 1998 to April 2001 as well as including some earlier information.

  • Population:
    – total: 10,262,000
    – under-18s: 2,157,000
  • Government armed forces:
    – active: 57,700
    – paramilitary: 5,600
  • Compulsory recruitment age: 18549
  • Voluntary recruitment age: 18
  • Voting age (government elections):
  • Child soldiers: none indicated
  • CRC-OP-CAC: signed on 6 September 2000; supports "straight-18" position.
  • Other treaties ratified: CRC; GC/API+II
  • There are no indications of under-18s in government armed forces. The Czech Republic has been a stronger supporter of the "straight-18" position.


National Recruitment Legislation and Practice

The 1992 Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms, which is part of the Constitutional Order of the Czech Republic states in its Article 9(1) that: "Nobody may be subjected to forced labour or services" but according to Article 9(2) the provisions of paragraph 1 shall not apply to "b) military service or to other service established by law in place of military service."550

According to the 1992 Military Act, a person may voluntarily join or be drafted into the armed forces only upon reaching the age of 18.551 According to paragraph 2 of the Law of 14 September 1999 on military service and military administration: "The obligation to do military service starts on the day when a citizen reaches the age of 18 years and ends upon reaching the age of 60 years." According to paragraph 3 of the Law, "citizens who are not subject to obligatory military service and foreigners may volunteer to do it on the day when they reach the age of 18 years."552 The length of military service is 12 months.553 Conscripts who take part in preparatory military training while they are students are allowed to reduce their military service to six months.

Women may be liable for military service in time of emergency or wartime.554 At other times they are able to join the army on the same terms as men, but are not subject to conscription. There are plans to reduce the proportion of conscripts and move towards an increasingly professionalisation alongside the downsizing of the armed forces.555

Military Training and Military Schools

There are military schools in the Czech Republic, which apparently accept students below 18 years of age. There are a variety of courses of different lengths, from one to six years, for males and females from secondary professional schools or nine-year primary schools. The conditions of acceptance are good health, meeting the requirements of the entrance examination and parental consent for students below 18. The obligation to do military service can be foregone by students of these schools after reaching the age of 18.556 In 1999, a total number of 413 students graduated from military colleges, military high schools and WO schools and were posted to available vacancies within the Armed Forces.


International Standards

The Czech Republic signed the CRC-OP-CAC on the 6 September 2000 and supports the "straight-18" position. It was a strong advocate for this position during the negotiations on the Optional Protocol. According to government sources, the Czech Republic plans to ratify the CRC-OP-CAC prior to the UNGA Special Session in September 2001.557

549 Report of Secretary-General, UN doc. op. cit. quoting War Resisters International, which gives the formal age of liability as 19, but confirms that recruitment takes place at 18 years of age.

550 Blaustein and Flanz op. cit.

551 Sections 11 and 14 of Act No. 331/1992. Initial Report of Czech Republic to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Doc. CRC/C/11/Add.11, 17/6/96, para. 38; Communication from the Permanent Mission of the Czech Republic to the United Nations sent to the QUNO, 13/1/98.

552 New Law on military service, published in Collection of Laws, 12/10/99, and which comes into force on 1/12/99. Information provided by the Permanent Mission to the United Nations in Geneva of the Czech Republic, 27/10/99.

553 IISS, Military Balance op. cit.

554 Horeman and Stolwijk, op. cit.

555 Ibid.

556 Permanent Mission of the Czech Republic, 13/1/98, op. cit.

557 Information provided by the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the CSC on 10/4/01.


This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.